In Part 2 excerpting a first-rate New York Times article by Paul B. Brown, the writer cleverly likens the issue of financial planning to the stages of grief experienced by those who understand they are dying—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—famously identified by the late psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. They “describe perfectly my reactions,” Brown wrote, “when I read recently that, according to Fidelity Investments, my wife, Alison, and I will need to save eight times our current annual income to come even close to having the kind of retirement we want. “
Assembling their financial records to do
their taxes, Brown, in today’s excerpt, finds the process passing through stages 3 and 4:
“BARGAINING “O.K. We’ll need eight times our income. Well, 7.5 would round up to 8, right? So maybe we can get away with that. And maybe I’ll just put in 60 hours a week until I’m 83. Beyond generating more money, that would cut down on retirement time. But that’s probably not going to work. Who the heck will hire me when I am 83? Well, what if we cut our current income in half? That would make the 7.5 times figure doable, although I am not quite sure how we would pay the mortgage. Or we could … . ”
When I couldn’t find any way around the problem, I was, just as Dr. Kübler-Ross predicted, miserable.
“DEPRESSION “How could this have happened? I write about this stuff in my work. I know that retirement is expensive and that people are living longer than ever, which means the money has to go even further. This is awful. I should have seen this coming. I wonder how cat food tastes?”
“Fortunately, I don’t have the discipline to wallow. My attention span is too short. And so, in a surprisingly short amount of time, I broke through to the other side.”
Up next: acceptance.